Hometown Hungers: Montreal Poutine

Cozy up with Canada’s comfort-food staple: a gravy-soaked plate of salty fries and springy cheese curds.
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Photo by: LauriPatterson ©Lauri Patterson

LauriPatterson, Lauri Patterson

When it comes to covetable cuisine, America’s neighbor to the north has more than just the maple market cornered. After all, Canada is also the land that learned to load French fries with salty nibs of fresh cheese (aka curds) and ladleful upon ladleful of warming brown gravy. The resulting dish, known as poutine, has become the comfort food of choice for many a Canadian.

Poutine first began popping up in the province of Quebec in the 1950s, though no one can say for sure in which restaurant kitchen the dish originated. The signature snack reportedly evolved over time, with one story crediting the now-shuttered Café Ideal as churning out the first iteration — crisp fries heaped with fresh cheese curds — at the request of a customer in 1957. Retro restaurant Le Roy Jucep is said to have first served the gravy-soaked version that's standard today in 1964, with the spot even having scored a registered trademark to call itself the inventor of the dish.

In the decades since poutine was created, its popularity has spread across Quebec. The province’s biggest city — Montreal — boasts a particularly high concentration of spots serving the signature snack. Poutine is now so prevalent across Canada that it is considered by many to be the country’s unofficial national dish. But for those who are unable to nose around up north, restaurants in America are turning out their own takes on the traditional recipe. Check out Food Network’s gallery of the best spots in the United States to cozy up with this comforting dish.

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